Someone called it a Pandemic. Some others called it an infodemic.
I had only thought of an epidemic but just look at what it has become? The dimensions it has assumed, the lessons it has taught? Whatever it was, my perceptions have suddenly acquired all the five senses, whereas earlier they were subsisting only on the visual and the occular. My understanding has gotten sensitized to things unseen. My mind has branched out to cover uncharted territories and discover precious recesses which had never been visited. Or recognized. Or applauded. And once it gets over, the wings of my consciousness shall yearn to fly and discover the hitherto uncharted world.
There is so much more than I had ever imagined! What was I doing? Being on the wrong side of fifty makes me feel as if I have wasted my time and now its short.
The newspapers at first confused me. “Infodemic” it was, though I don’t think there is a word like that in the dictionary. Yet.The television was screaming caution. And heaping allegations. Everyone looked pale. Ignorant. Scared. How does novel Corona travel, how does it find a body and enter it, etc etc. How different is it from the earlier Coronas? Many people, many opinions and so many theories! Biases and prejudices. They said the novel Corona virus looks like a crown, hence the name given. That it is like nothing ever born before and has the power to kill. There have been several coronas before, but this is the deadliest. That no vaccine or cure is in sight. As a starter, the virus’ DNA mapping had to be done or was already done as a pre-condition for researching the vaccine that will safeguard us from this novel Corona.
And one day someone said the virus can be airborne too. Oh My God! So its floating around me, unseen! That got my goat. Wasn’t it enough that it could spread through contact? In school, we were always told to delicately sneeze and cough in our handkerchiefs; now this became the norm, nay, rule. And using sanitizers became the eighth vow of hindu marriage. “I shall always have a bottle of sanitizer at the stretch of a hand.”
The virus needed christening- COVID 19, it was called after much deliberation.
A once in hundred years phenomenon. A very humbling experience for all of humanity. Not because I was spared the infection which means I am destined to live a little bit longer, but because of what it implied- we witnessed nature coming back with a vengeance. Powerful as ever, it belittled us humans who had been presumptious enough to defy the tenets of harmonious co-existence.
Social distancing was born. Handshakes and hugs were forbidden. I realize now that a more apt term would have been physical distancing. Because socially we came much closer ( on media that is!) and often we saw hearts and hugs and high fives floating around in abundance. Social media became a go to place for anyone who could not withstand physical distancing for very long. Relationships forgotten for years together took on a new meaning, propelled by media. Long distance love became the need of the hour. Whether it was sibling love, or love of the amorous kind, it helped us survive.
Talking about daily bread- we stocked up for a month- maybe even six weeks. The daily wage earners couldn’t stock up for a week even. When we shared our largesse with them they yielded with folded hands and bent heads. For food over which they have a birthright. ”If God then so clothes the grasses of the field;
Which today will live, and feed the oven tomorrow?
Will he not be much more ready to clothe you?
Men of little faith?” Did I not read this poem in school?
I felt like a heel robbing them of their birthright.
I grew up reading the world is racist. I now know it is not- we all stood up as one in our efforts to bid adieu to the novel Corona. Even the virus is not racist; neither are the animals and birds that have come out for a walk in the sun because the sun is shining brightly, like it used to, long time ago. Without that film of pollution clouding it. They have just walked out and flown into the “great wide beautiful wonderful world” as described by William Brighty Rands. As if it is their very own. And of course it is! Boundaries? What boundaries?
I have increasingly begun to believe that racism is in the minds of all those humans who have nothing better to do. And the boundaries are our own limiting pettiness and make us behave like ogres.
It is this pettiness that has begun to tell us to mess up other peoples’ worlds; not realizing that in fact, we are messing up our very own too. Do we still believe we can define your world or mine? Or is it simply ours, to preserve and cherish?
I read about the ravages of WW I and WW II because I wasn’t born then. But this I have seen and lived every minute of the struggle. I therefore see raw emotion taking over, superseding reason. It has not been as easy as racing through a text book by an eminent World History professor or a novel by Leon Uris.
A major shift in economic activity is foreseen. A slow and jittery start with many bugs along the way. I see a real feeling of security or lack of it, whatever we decide to choose, as against the bubble that we called our lifestyle just three months ago.
I guess, in the aftermath, we will have learnings facilitating our decisions- not even a small lesson will, hopefully, go unheeded and unnoticed. I see people, more guarded; more conscious of the situation, of each other. I am hoping the warmth continues. Though mostly they have all gone back to discussions on nail biting elections and back biting politics. And a post-mortem of how the COVID-19 could have been better handled. Also to the vital question about whether we can call it W W III. Literally, who won? Sad end to the virulent flamboyant novel Corona.
There is an increased respect of the curers; the doctors, the researchers, healthcare workers. What would we have done without them? They set forth, like true soldiers with no fear for their lives, to protect the people of a country, not the political boundaries or the disputed territories. They protected lives to the best of their means and ability.
Househelp is asking for a raise. And I just feel like giving them more than they are asking for. They have proved how precious they are by their very absence. And it was me who asked them to stay home; they were willing to come to work amid all the exposure because they had to earn their daily bread.
I need to get back to waking up on time in the mornings! The “stay home” made us all unmindful of timings. All except a few very determined ones lost their routine but did their chores. Whenever, wherever. However.
I might also need to use my alarm on the hand phone for a reminder to unlatch the front door every morning. These days we don’t step out , you see, so the latch stays in place.
Life after Corona? Very simply put- minimalistic. The needs reduced to bare minimum, because after all, did we not survive? The paraphernalia did not help us combat the virus; the absence of paraphernalia did.
Did I wear my stylish new heels while staying home? So do I need to wear them now when going out? Of course not. The keds are sufficient.
I just manicured my hands and feet this morning in order to feel more beautiful. But during the reign of the Corona, working hands looked most beautiful. I miss them now.
There is a nagging fear of what will happen if the novel Corona comes back. Que sera sera, what will be, will be.
Life will never be the same again. At least for us who met the deadly Corona face to face. Handshake to handshake. Hug to hug, the virus was always intruding for these three months ever since we found it wrecking havoc in China.
For those who will read only the stories later on, this might be a historic once in 100 years phenomenon that nature creates for a clean up long overdue. The muck that builds up is a necessary evil accompanying irresponsible human behavior where selfish humanity gets trampled and compromised because nature is playing up and we do not know how to combat the wrath. In all probability it will enjoy the same status as the Spanish flu. Maybe the SARS and MERS and Ebola come close but COVID-19 takes it away.
I had started getting the feeling that I had arrived; now it is clear that I have a long long way to go. And I don’t even know whether I will reach or not. I am on the wrong side of fifty you see and don’t have much time.